COVID19: Pandemic on way out, not the virus

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Covid-19 infections will continue, but the end of the pandemic is near, a study published by peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet argues.

“after the Omicron wave, Covid-19 will return, but the pandemic will not.”

The Coronavirus pandemic may well soon be over.

Still, humanity will have to learn to live with COVID-19 for some years to come, argues a study presented in The Lancet by Christopher J.L. Murray, MD, Professor and Chair of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington.

“COVID-19 will become another recurrent disease that health systems and societies will have to manage.

“The era of extraordinary measures by governments and societies to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission will be over,” the study stated.

The paper argues that following the wave of infections powered by the virus’ most transmissible Omicron variant, COVID-19 will return in one way or another, but the pandemic will not.

The study says the transmission of the virus will continue.

“Immunity, whether infection or vaccination derived, will wane, creating opportunities for continued SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

“Given seasonality, countries should expect increased potential transmission in winter months.”

The study noted the impact of the virus will not be at today’s levels, despite the possible emergence of new variants.

“It will be less because of broad previous exposure to the virus, regularly adapted vaccines to new antigens or variants, the advent of antivirals, and the knowledge that the vulnerable can protect themselves during future waves when needed by using high-quality masks and physical distancing.”

On Omicron, the study said data from Greece holds out hope that severe Covid-19 outcomes from the wave will be limited.

“From December 21, 2021, to January 17, 2022, Covid-19 cases increased nearly 10 times, but hospital intubations among Covid-19 hospital patients have remained the same as in December”.

Virologist and government advisor Dr Peter Karayiannis said it is encouraging news, but authorities should hold off before lifting restrictions.

“Omicron has proven to be a variant causing less severe disease, but elderly and people belonging to vulnerable groups could well get seriously ill if infected,” argued Dr Karayiannis.

He explained that recent deaths are estimated to be related mostly to the Delta variant and not Omicron, although authorities are concerned daily cases this week are higher than last week.

Scientists on the island are looking to relax some measures, but authorities will need to be cautious as a new variant could overturn plans.

“If a more aggressive variant makes an appearance, which could evade vaccine efficacy, then we could have a problem.”

Karayiannis said Cypriots would be living with the virus for some years to come under an “awkward truce’.